August 12, 2022

Winter Classic: Caps top Blackhawks on Brouwer’s late goal

For everyone associated with the Washington Capitals — the organization, the team and the fans — the 2015 Winter Classic could not have gone any better. Perfect weather conditions, perfect ice conditions, just the right amount of pageantry and celebration, an overflow capacity crowd of 98.5 percent Caps fans, a well-played game by both teams, and a game-winning goal by the home team with less than 13 second remaining.

Troy Brouwer’s power play goal with 12.9 seconds left in regulation lifted the Washington Capitals over the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in the NHL’s regular season showcase, the 2015 Winter Classic.

Brouwer’s goal was set up by a very light hooking call against Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews with 1:13 remaining. It just another in a long line of strange penalties and no-calls in what was an uneven and disjointed officiated game against both teams — perhaps the only blemish on the day.

Karl Alzner was carrying the puck in the left corner when Toews’ stick glazed Alzner’s midsection, not even enough to slow the Caps defenseman or knock him off the puck. Regardless, referee Francois St. Laurent’s arm raised, sending Toews to the box.

During the power play, the Caps won a faceoff at center ice and Alex Ovechkin carried the puck into the offensive zone. He tried to get a shot away, but was slashed by Brandon Saad. Two Blackhawks reached for the puck, but Brouwer was there first. He spun an whipped a shot that beat Chicago goalie Corey Crawford to the glove side.

Brouwer seemed to not see the puck go in at first, then dropped his stick, clenched both fists and raised his arms in the air as his teammates clobbered him in celebration.

Saad was whistled for a penalty on the play, but the damage was already done.

The game was played at a 2-2 tie much of the second and third periods. What started with offensive fireworks in the first 23 minutes ended as a tense, defensive struggle decided on a pair of power plays.

The Caps scored on theirs late, and the Blackhawks failed on theirs in the second period, a 5-on-3 for 1:31.

At 9:18 of the second, Tom Wilson was whistled for goalkeeper interference as he and Crawford linked skates above the top of the crease after Wilson had been knocked off-stride by a Blackhawk defender.  Just 29 seconds later, John Carlson clubbed Chicago forward Andrew Shaw with a two-handed shiver to the upper chest and was sent off for high-sticking.

But the Caps killed the ensuing 5-on-3 and the remainder of the second penalty to keep the tie intact.

Braden Holtby was again superb. He made 33 saves, including four on Chicago’s five power plays.

Eric Fehr started the scoring 7:01 into the game. He tracked down a loose puck, outraced Brent Seabrook into the zone and skated in on Crawford. After a quick deke, Fehr beat the goalie glove-side for his 11th goal of the season and third outdoor goal of his career, becoming the NHL’s all-time leading goal-scorer in outdoor games.

Alex Ovechkin, who had a monster game, collected his 18th of the season at 11:58 of the first, beating Crawford on a rebound of a shot by Mike Green from the point.

Patrick Sharp made it 2-1 less than two minutes later on a power play goal with Nick Backstrom in the box for holding, and Saad tied it at 3:15 of the second period after a bad turnover by John Carlson turned into a tic-tac-toe between Toews, Marian Hossa and finished by Saad.

At the end of the day, the win was worth two points in the standings. But the spectacle of the Winter Classic at Nationals Park will long linger in the minds of Caps fans, the organization, the players and the league for years to come. The festivities were everything the league could hope for in these games, and the game D.C. went off spectacularly.

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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